With energy experts forecasting substantial increases in solar power in the coming decades, GE researchers are working with Arizona Public Service (APS), the state's largest electric utility, to understand how large amounts of solar can best be integrated into today's grid.
APS, along with four partners (including GE), was recently awarded a $3.3 million High Penetration Solar Deployment grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The comprehensive first-of-its-kind study, which was approved earlier this month by the Arizona Corporation Commission, will take place in Flagstaff, Ariz.
The team will help identify methods and technologies to optimize grid reliability and efficiency with high concentrations of distributed solar generation. Specifically, the researchers will determine what current and new technologies are needed to accommodate higher penetrations of solar, as well as the point at which these technologies will be needed. The team will also study what changes utility controllers can expect in how they manage power and how the stability of the distribution network could be affected by fluctuating solar power production.
APS plans to integrate 1.5 MW of solar power on a single feeder. Approximately 600 kW will come from residential photovoltaic rooftop installations, 400 kW will be generated from installations on commercial business properties and 500 kW will be incorporated from a utility-scale solar park installation. GE's Brilliance solar inverter will be used by the utility to handle power conversion from the utility-scale solar installation.